General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms

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CHAPTER 13

THE FIRST SUNRISE

I Am Captain Purr. I am the eldest son of Chief Miaow. I was one of the Union Jacks in the days of the resistance. That morning, I did my usual check on Dad. His hut was empty. He did not sleep in it last night. Oh no! Dad. Don’t die on us, please! I imagined the worst.

I ran over to Twinkle’s place. I must not reveal my agitation. I mustn’t raise false alarms. She’ll take it badly. I paused outside her door for a few moments to catch my breath. She was washing herself. “Twinkle have you seen Dad?”

“No. Is something wrong?”

“Oh! Nothing special.” I said casually, “I have a message for him from the Council, that’s all. They need some advice.”

Twinkle let out a groan.

“Try down by the trees. Jackat’s cavorting there. Dad might be with him.”

I dashed off but he was not with Jackat.

“Grandad is probably at the W- shaped tree. He must have gone earlier than usual. I’ll be joining him later.” Jackat said.

I mustn’t reveal my concern to Jackat. It would destroy him. They’re so close.

Once I was out of Jackat’s sight, I sprinted to the W- shaped tree where deep down I always knew he would be. Please Dad, don’t leave us now. What will we do without you? You’ve given us so much. Please don’t die. Agonizing thoughts rushed through my mind between each gasp.

I arrived at the far end of the enclosure and I stopped. Oh, thank goodness! There he is. Alive and well. I regained my breath and with a relieved smile approached him from the back. The tree trunk partly interfered with my vision.

He was sleeping. There was a contented smile on his face. “Dad?” I coolly called, “Dad!” I repeated in a stronger voice… “Dad! Dad,” I stressed in an agitated tone… He did not reply each time. Nor did he move. “Dad, Dad,” I shrieked as I nudged him. Oh no! He’s dead, no, no. I crumbled beside him sobbing. Time stood still as one soul gazed at another with overflowing affection. A stream of emotional thoughts flowed inside but I struggled to process any of them.

He had passed away peacefully in his sleep. In his right hand, he held the feather pen. It was one of the feathers of the ill-fated standard of the Army of the South. Ironically, father considered it our good luck charm. He believed it was the magic wand of Lady Luck. He boasted that she had graciously rode on that gust of wind to visit us. He used to say that General Jack always wondered whether she would pay us a visit during the battle.

In the other hand, he clasped to his bosom what he called his book of wisdom. I gently released these two items from his hands to write these last lines.

I must return home to tell the others. I’ve got to break it gently to them. I retraced my steps to call father’s family but I stopped. The prompt recollection of a baffling observation ruffled me-the expression of Dad’s face. I looked back at father’s face. Funny! That expression was familiar but I could not place it.

We returned together with my son Jackat who we had named after our General. We agreed to hold a dignified private burial by his beloved W-shaped tree. We did not announce his death publically. The news of his death would have reverberated to the ends of Our Land. We did not want huge crowds desecrating this hallowed ground where our liberation movement was born. We were convinced Dad concurred.

As soon as we arrived, Twinkle stared at Dad through her tear stained eyes. She promptly remarked, “Father has not had that contented look on his face since General Jack departed. Not even in the victory celebrations did he have that look!”

In an instant, it all fell in place. General Jack returned after all! He kept his promise! Father was there to greet him as he always wished. All this time, General Jack had been waiting for his faithful comrade-in-arms. They were together again!

With moist eyes, I looked up at the sun rising over the mountains. The new day had just begun for Miaow.

In weakness, my strength,

In defeat, my victory,

In darkness, the light,

In death, new life.

Chief Miaow

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